Interview with Dragon Dice’s PR Director Stephen Braun

Written by on June 28, 2013 in [, ]

If you’ve ever been to a gaming con that features both video game and board game areas it doesn’t take long before you begin to realize there’s a certain level of hardcore that applies to board gamers. Our world is governed by short attention spans, intense action, and sexy graphics, and that exists in spades in the video game industry. On the flip side the board game culture is so much smaller, so much deeper, and, yes, so much more hardcore. The dynamics are different, the social engagement much higher, and the strategy much more intense. There are exceptions, of course, and I’m speaking in generalities, but the board gaming culture was born out of this depth of engagement.

Enter Dragon Dice. Dragon Dice was a game created in the mid-nineties by TSR, the company that owned Dungeons and Dragons. In 2000, TSR (then part of Wizards of the Coast) sold the game to SFR, who continue to build upon and support it to this day. Dragon Dice is a fantasy dice game where you are the master of three armies and your goal is to take over three territories. Of course, you’re battling an opponent for those territories, and the fights can get pretty brutal. Armies are built using a Warhammer like point-buy system allocated to your dice so no two armies are alike, and these armies can reflect your strategy. There are small, medium, and large sized dice, depending on how many points you want to spend on a particular unit. A dragon or two is thrown in to mix things up a bit and dice based fantasy warfare ensues.

Straight from its roots, Dragon Dice is a deep game. While having strong fundamentals in strategic play (managing attack type, army position, defensive strategy) it’s almost too deep for the modern gamer. With the European board gaming renaissance heralded by games like Settlers of Catan taking the board gaming world by storm the market is becoming progressively more saturated with new, unique, and different styles of games that are very easy to approach. Dragon Dice simply isn’t as casual as what we see on the market today. A good game of Dragon Dice will take two players a solid two hours to complete.

If you’re into high fantasy and you have an interest in dice based board games, Dragon Dice might be right up your alley. If the prospect of reading a 140 page rulebook leaves your head spinning, it may be better to turn to something a little easier to wrap your arms around.

I had the opportunity to meet the team at SFR at PAX East this year, and had the opportunity afterwards to ask SFR’s PR Director, Stephen Braun, a few questions about the game:

Dragon Dice is a game that has been around for a while. Tell me about the history of the game and how it ended up being in the hands of SFR.

In response to the success of Magic: the Gathering, TSR commissioned Lester Smith to develop a collectible dice game. Using dice would set this game apart from the many card collectible card games coming out. Lester developed Dragon Dice, and in 1995 the game was released. It met with a great deal of initial success, including winning the 1995 Origins Award for Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game. A number of kicker packs came out over the next few years.
When TSR went through the issues that would lead to it being sold to Wizards of the Coast, Dragon Dice languished. When Hasbro bought WotC, they planned to discontinue the game and dispose of the existing stock. A group of fans formed their own company, SFR, Inc., and purchased the game from Hasbro in 2000. This kept the game going, and SFR produced the Treefolk kicker to complete the sets originally proposed by TSR.

SFR, Inc. itself had some struggles, until a new board of directors, under the leadership of current president Chuck Pint, took over the company on 2004. This group got the game back into regular game distribution channels, and has actively worked to keep the existing Dragon Dice products in print as well as develop new products. Dragon Dice is currently going strong, with a growing player base and a steady stream of new products produced.

There is a lot going on in Dragon Dice. Who is your target market for a game like this? Who would find this game the most appealing?

Obviously, our first target audience is gamers who like dice and dice games. Dragon Dice uses custom dice that cannot be found in any other game, and the game mechanics revolve around rolling and manipulating dice. If you never get enough dice rolling in your games, you will love Dragon Dice!

The game also has a great deal of strategy involved in the building of armies and the use of the various game mechanics. The current rules have seen a variety of armies, using different races and strategies, win the major championships. Anyone who enjoys strategic games, and is comfortable with the randomness of dice, will find that Dragon Dice will reveal new strategies and combinations to them for many years.

In addition to gamers, Dragon Dice also appeals to dice collectors. There is a wide variety of color combinations and shapes in the unique dice for the game. There is even a patented 4-sided die style you can’t find anywhere else! Some of our current players started out just collecting the dice because they were so cool.

For experienced Dragon Dice players, are there any changes you made to the game from when it was previously owned by other companies?

There certainly are! SFR has done a complete rewrite of the old Dice Commander’s Manual rules to balance the game and to make a greater variety of strategies viable. The spell lists and special action icons have seen a number of revisions. Black magic doubling has been redefined to eliminate burial. Charging and routing have been eliminated from the game. The magic item rules have been tweaked to make them more usable. Some races have had changes to their racial abilities and spell lists.

Of course, since the TSR days many new dice have been added to the game. A whole new race, the Acolytes of Eldarim, has been produced. Several new “champion” dice have been created. New terrain combinations and special frontier terrains have been added. Ivory, white, and hybrid dragons join their elemental counterparts. Old-timers coming back to the game will find that their strategic options have grown.

In all this, however, we have had one overriding concern, and that is to make sure no die ever becomes obsolete. There are no “banned” lists in Dragon Dice, and every die ever produced is still playable under the new rules. Anyone wanting to get back into the game can pull out their old collection, download the current rules from the SFR, Inc. web site (, and dive right in.

Dragon Dice is an incredibly complicated game. The rule book is pretty thick. What do you recommend for newbies to the game? Is there a quick start guide?

The rulebook looks much more intimidating than it is. We created a comprehensive rulebook, covering every die made for the game. Most of the book is the complete spell lists, special action icon lists, pictures of the dice icons, and a glossary. Beginners can just read the first section of the rulebook to get the basic rules, and refer to the lists for just those items they need.

We are working on new basic game rules that will allow players to jump in much more easily. Some Dragon Dice fans have also been posting: how to play” videos on YouTube, so new players can look for help there. Newbies can also go to the Dragon Dice forum from the SFR, Inc. site and find places to ask questions, read strategies, and even play games online. (Many newbie questions are actually answered by members of the SFR board.)

I have a Dragon Dice two-player starter pack with two particular races in it. How many races are there, and is there an ultimate, or master set available for purchase?

There are currently 13 races available for the game. Four of these come in the starter sets, and are only available that way: Amazons, Swamp Stalkers, Feral, and Undead. The other nine races are either currently available or slated for release soon as “kicker packs”: Coral Elves, Lava Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Firewalkers, Frostwings, Scalders, Treefolk, and Acolytes of Eldarim.

There are also a number of expansions available for Dragon Dice. These include Battlefields (new terrains and minor terrains), Dragonkin, and the Battle Chest (magic items). Some special dice are also available to add to your games. These include our various “Champion” dice and magic Medallions. SFR has also produced new hybrid (two-color) dragons and white dragons.

There is no way to buy a “master set” of dice from SFR, Inc. Part of the fun of Dragon Dice (at least for some players) is the process of building their collection through purchases and trades. The Dragon Dice forum has an active trading thread for those looking to make a deal.

Where can our readers find Dragon Dice, and in what product sets at what price points can it be found?

Since we have returned Dragon Dice to regular game distribution channels, it is available through your local game store. If they don’t stock the game, just ask for it. You can also buy directly from SFR, Inc. through the storefront on our website. We also send representatives to a number of game conventions throughout the country, and have our products available there, as well as experienced players who would be happy to demo the game for you.

We have quite an assortment of products available. Two-Player Starter Sets retail for $17.95. Kicker packs and Expansion Packs sell for $6.95-9.95. Most of our special dice sell for $3.00-5.00 each, but can be purchased in sets at a savings. For a complete listing of current products, visit the storefront on the SFR, Inc. web site.


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Author: Andrew Smith View all posts by

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